Noon Meem Rashed

Published on by KHAWAJA UMER FAROOQ


Nazri Muhammad Rashed  (August 1, 1910 – October 9, 1975) commonly known as Noon Meem Rashed  or N.M. Rashid, was born as Nazri Muhammad Janjua at Alipur Chattha District Gujranwala formerly Akalgarh, Punjab, Pakistan. He was an influential Pakistani poet of modern Urdu poetry.

Early years

Rashid was born in a Janjua family of Village Kot Bhaaga, Akaal Garh (now Alipur Chatha),[1] Tehsil Wazirabad, District, Gujranwala, Punjab, and earned a Masters degree in economics from the Government College Lahore.[2] He served for a short time in the Royal Indian Army during the Second World War, attaining the rank of Captain. Before Partition, he worked with All-India Radio in New Delhi and Lucknow. Later on, he worked for the United Nations.

Career

Rashed served the UN and worked in many countries. He is considered to be the father of Modernism in Urdu Literature. Along with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, he is one of the great progressive poets in Pakistani literature. His themes run from the struggle against oppression to the relationship between words and meanings, between language and awareness and the creative process that produces poetry and other arts. Though intellectually deep, he is often attacked for his unconventional views and life-style. In an age when Pakistani literature and culture acknowledge their Middle Eastern roots, Rashed highlighted the Persian element in the making of his nation's history and psyche. Rashed edited an anthology of modern Iranian poetry which contained not only his own translations of the selected works but also a detailed introductory essay. He rebelled against the traditional form of 'ghazal' and became the first major exponent of free verse in Urdu Literature. While his first book, Mavra, introduced free verse and is more technically accomplished and lyrical, his main intellectual and political ideals reach maturity in his last two books.
His readership is limited and recent social changes have further hurt his stature and there seems to be a concerted effort to not to promote his poetry. His first book of free verse, Mavra, was published in 1940 and established him as a pioneering figure in free form Urdu poetry.
He retired to England in 1973 and died in a London hospital in 1975. His body was cremated, though no such request appears in his will. This created an outcry in conservative Pakistani circles and he was branded an infidel. Anyhow, he is considered a great figure in progressive Urdu literature.

Poetry

N M Rashed was often attacked for his unconventional views and life style. According to Zia Mohyeddin, a friend of Rashed, "In the time when everybody was in quest of learning English, which was a must for getting some decent job, Rashed was busy in making paintings or poetry."
The themes of Rashed’s poetry run from the struggle against domination to the relationship between words and meanings, between language and awareness and the creative process that produces poetry and other arts.
Initially his poetry appeared to have the influence of John Keats, Robert Browning and Matthew Arnold and he wrote many sonnets on their pattern, but later on he managed to maintain his own style. These were his initial exercises of poetry, which could not last for a longer period of time, and so ultimately he developed and maintained his own style.
He rebelled against the traditional form of the ‘ghazal’ and became the first major exponent of free verse in Urdu Literature. His first book, ‘Mavra’, introduced free verse and is technically accomplished and lyrical.

Family

Rashed's first wife Safia died in 1961 at the age of 46, of an incorrectly administered B-complex injection in Karachi. His second marriage, to Sheila Angelini, took place in 1964.
Rashed had several children. His eldest Nasrin Rashed lives in Islamabad and is retired from her work with the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. The second daughter Yasmin Hassan resides in Montreal, and has two children, Ali and Naurooz. His nephew (sister's son) and son-in-law (Yasmin Hassan’s husband) Faruq Hassan was a teacher at Dawson College and McGill University. Faruq Hassan died on November 11, 2011.[3] The third daughter, Shahin Sheikh, now deceased, lived in Washington and worked for the Voice of America. She has two children in the US. Rashed's youngest daughter, Tamzin Rashed Jans, lives in Belgium and has two sons.
His eldest son Shahryar died in 1999 holding the post of Pakistani Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The younger, Nazeil, lives in New York.

Bollywood

His poem "Zindagi sey dartey ho" was set to music in the 2010 Bollywood movie, Peepli Live. It was performed by the Indian music band, Indian Ocean, and received critical appreciation as "hard-hitting" and "a gem of a track" that "everyone is meant to sing, and mean, at some point in life".[4][5]

Bibliography

  • Mavra
  • Iran Main Ajnabi
  • La Musawi Insan
  • Guman ka Mumkin
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